The Alternative #NovaBabe: Rising Star Kaya Nova Talks Spelman, Songs, and Studying Your Craft
Kaya Nova is 23 year-old R&B singer-songwriter and producer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Influenced by classic soul, neo-soul, and the current wave of alternative R&B, her sound is a bridge between the generations of music she has grown up with. Having studied music at Spelman College and Berklee College of Music, Kaya Nova has trained in both classical and contemporary styles which has prepared her to be the dynamic performer she is today. Her well-versed sense of travel has not only heightened her status as an artist to watch, but has given her a larger sense of the millennial scene of music in differing communities.
SB: Prior to living in New York City, what was your living situation and how was your community?
KN: Before moving to New York I was living in Fayetteville, NC. I had ended up taking a life detour in my hometown for a year, and it was a very hard transition. I initially stayed with family, but left when things became mentally stressful. I was homeless for a brief period, stayed with friends for a few months, before eventually affording to live on my own. So like I said, super tough! The communities in Fayetteville are pretty quiet. Majority military families living in suburbia, it’s a very small town.
SB: What was it like attending Spelman College, an all-female HBCU, in Atlanta?
KN: I honestly ran away to Spelman after high school. I just knew that I needed something different. Spelman changed my life. I found myself, healed myself, made a ton of mistakes and accomplishments, and most importantly met life-long sisters. I grew up in a single parent home with just my mom and older sister, so being around women all the time really didn’t bother me. Atlanta was that perfect blend of the south and the city, and after coming from a city like Fayetteville it was perfect.
SB: What was the living situation like?
KN: In Atlanta I stayed on campus all four years. That’s honestly what helped make my experience in college so rich, and provided me that safe haven of freedom knowing my parents weren’t technically paying my bills every month. So overall it felt safe and was my first taste of living on my own.
SB: How do you feel about the possibility of transgender women integrating into housing units? I know there has been a lot of ongoing controversy within administration since we’re graduated.
KN: I personally think it’s crazy that someone else’s freedom to simply seek education in a space that feels safe to them is even brought up for my opinion (a privileged person in this aspect). While I completely support transgender women at Spelman and in housing, it’s not about how I feel. It’s about how they feel. It’s about giving them rights. It’s about making them safe. To me, that’s not up for discussion, especially amongst straight women or straight presenting women like myself. It’s a basic question of “do you support giving other women rights they should have?” To me that’s a hell yes.
SB: How did moving to NYC help your career in the music industry? Did it hurt you at all?
KN: Moving to NYC was exactly what my career needed. There are so many possibilities and connections in just one borough alone, and I’ve already began laying creative roots. Of course it’s a financial pain at times, but I’ve created multiple revenue streams with my art and that’s SUPER important in this city.
SB: What is your living situation like in New York City as an upcoming artist?
KN: I currently live in a three bedroom apartment in Flatbush with roommates. I enjoy it because I have enough space and privacy, but also am considerate of my own budget.
SB: How would you identify the music scene here in New York City, as opposed to Atlanta?
KN: The scene in New York is wider. People are so creative here, there’s literally a lane for just about anything and any art you want to do, regardless of what you look like. In the south it’s a little harder to be different, but in contrast it’s a little easier to make connections because it’s not as many people.
SB: What are some of the hottest spots in New York for music lovers?
KN: I’m honestly just learning to find them myself! But a few open mics like Harlem Nights, The Darker The Berry, Basquiat’s Bottle, The Sifer have really dope and welcoming vibes. But I’m still adding to my list as I go exploring!
SB: Do you have any upcoming projects?
KN: An indie artist always has upcoming projects, and I’m no different. I don’t like to speak on them too early and jinx them, but I will say what I’m working on for myself is something I’ve never done before. So very excited to share once it all comes together.
SB: Do you have any advice for millennial and Generation Z who want to pursue a music career in the city?
KN: STUDY YOUR CRAFT. As artists we always find ourselves with a “day job” to help cover our cost of living, but if you know your art well enough you don’t have to completely abandon music to survive. Write down all the skills you have, figure out which ones you can make profitable, build your revenue streams! And most importantly plan monthly goals for yourself, execute, and try again. You’re the only one that can hold you back from making your dreams happen.
She released her debut EP entitled “Dear 7even” August 7th 2017, a body of work reflective of her roller coaster experiences with love, relationships, and black culture. The single “Hoodie” was released July 7th, garnering quick attention from fans. Her music offers a different aspect to the popularized genre of alternative R&B, infused with pop and neo-soul influences. She describes her sound as “the lovechild between trap music vibes and live band R&B.” To connect with Kaya Nova, follow her on Instagram at @TheKayaNova, on Twitter at @TheKayaNova and Facebook on Kaya Nova Music.